Captain Save a Bro' - My Strength for Men Who Need Me

Back in Detroit in my late twenties I was given the name "gal pal".  I hung with a group of guys that I had loads of fun with during the week.  We golfed. We partied. We had cookouts. We confused everybody in the club on the weekends. One young girl, five older guys - who's the mack? It proved to be a very valuable year of my life adding to my knowledge of men and helping me to better understand the interconnection between genders.  We are indeed very different, yet called to live together.  The Bible says "be fruitful and multiply".  Well, the multiplying isn't hard but that being fruitful thing...takes some work.

After hanging with the "old men" for that time, I went back back to my clique of guys who were around my age or younger.  There were some differences, but ironically there was a whole lot that was exactly the same. From twenty-three to fifty-three, there was a baseline behavior, thought pattern, and struggle with men.  During this time I dated different races, religions, and cultures and saw many of the same things.   Men have many of the same internal battles - how to stay faithful (and excited) with a mate, how to provide for their loved ones, how to make and find a place for themselves in the world.  However, I realized that there was a particular struggle that men of color faced with these issues because I came to realize that not only did they have internal battles but the constant opposition of the world pushing against them. They needed a champion - a cheerleader - a hero.

I guess that's when I put on my cape and decided to become "Captain Save a Bro" - coined from the 1993 song by E-40 with a similar name. I have brothers and eventually had sons who would suffer the same opposition to their value.  So, I started to look deep inside of a man to see his worth - the God in him.  I purposed myself to find something great about every man that crossed my path. Sometimes, it was easy. Other times a brotha' made it hard for me to see but I eventually found it.  Bruised, battered, scarred by hard- I left every man in better shape for the next woman. When I made my exit, (as super heroes do),  he knew he was great. He knew he was smart enough to do whatever destiny had planted inside of him.

Looking back on my ex-boyfriends and mates I realize that I've done my share of saving:  Searching the nation and Canada for crutches long enough to help a seven-footer then getting on a plane to hand deliver them out of the country,  fixing resumes and doing mock interviews to target better jobs, researching programs and filling out applications to send him back to school, riding a bike along side a runner training for a marathon, cooking six healthy meals on Sunday to help him lose weight,  fixing protein shakes and high calorie meals to help him gain weight, staying up late while he finished writing his song, doing his slides for the big presentation, helping him promote, and finding the right electronic cigarette to help him stop smoking.  But my coup de grace was  intervening with the surgeon before they cut off his leg so he could eventually walk away with another woman and give her the benefit of all I had done.

I wish I could say in all of these things that I received much in return from these men, but I cannot say that at all. Nobody saved my liver or lung, brought me soup when I was sick, or held me down while I didn't have a job.  But that is the brokenness that I saw in a "bro".  Sometimes when they finally get the respect they deserve and they realize just how great they are, the anger and resentment propels them forward.  It becomes a life of "I'll show them damn it!" rather than "God use me for your glory".

Please don't confuse what I am saying. I got something very valuable from my efforts. When my guy pal recently called me "the man whisperer" and "captain save a bro",  I thought back on all of it.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I initially got a little sick to my stomach and thought to myself "ungrateful bastard!" (What? I'm not perfect.)  But, I quickly, within minutes, came to understand that these men helped me to realize who I am. I AM LOVE. That is who God created me to be.  I don't know how to connect with a man that doesn't "need" me.  I need him to need me so that I can be who I am - helping him become who he is. We have all been created for something and it's not something as superficial as being a writer or a marketing executive. We are all created to produce fruit in others.  How productive are you?

Getting to Know You: Compatibility Traps

They say opposites attract and that might be true.  However, if you want to sustain a healthy, productive, lasting relationship you better have something important in common. Many times we are so starved for a relationship that we ignore signs of incompatibility early in the dating evaluation process.  Men usually ignore these signs. Women usually see the signs but believe they can compensate for them or lead him to change.

Here are just a few compatibility traps to avoid:

If a person is a smoker when you meet, please assume he/she will always be a smoker.  He could stop smoking. Absolutely! But you can't build a relationship on what COULD happen. Think of all the turmoil that will ensue when you come home from getting your hair done and realize in a few hours your $1200 human hair weave smells like an ashtray.  You are going to be pissed off and the day is ruined.

When you met your woman in the club she had a sexy Virginia Slim hanging between two french manicured fingers but now four months later you want her to stop. You are disgusted by the habit and feel like she needs to stop if she wants the relationship to work. She's not wrong for continuing to smoke. You are wrong for ignoring an important compatibility sign. When she drops ashes on your new white sneakers the day is ruined.

Speaking of smokers, don't date a master BBQ chef (or a guy who thinks he is) if you are strictly tofu and thinking of joining PETA. It's not going to work no matter how great the sex is and how much he reminds you of Boris Kodjoe.

If your idea of comfort food is sushi and Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, you need not pick a man who loves a sloppy joe sandwich with ketchup and sugar on it.  It sounds like an easy fix. Let him eat sloppy joe while you enjoy your sushi, right? Nope!  This small nuance says so much more about the two of you. Food choices can be a sign of things to come. If you take her to a 5-star restaurant for Valentine's Day and she is not excited or appreciative because she just wanted a hotdog, both of you are going to be upset and the day is ruined.

Recreational Drug Use

If you are "drug-free" and want to stay that way, you probably don't want to date a chronic weed smoker who lays in bed all day or a guy on MDMA who feels like a champion. If you like to get high and ride with the top down, you probably don't want to date a young man who protests outside of the medical marijuana facility with a sign that reads, "Marijuana is the gateway to crack".

Oh, and alcohol and weed people don't mix.  If she is a silly or crying drunk, she is simply going to blow your high with her antics. It goes without saying that any kind of "upper" need not pair with a weed smoker. You will just be running on two different speeds for the entirety of the relationship.

Special Sex
Sex is a very important compatibility trap.  Men, the first thing you need to know is "frequency" needs to just come off of your list because while she's trying to get you, she's going to ride you like Seabiscuit, but after a while she's going to be too tired and too busy to do all that every night - especially if, in all that sex, you gave her the wonderful gift of a swollen ankles and a few children.

If your idea of "special sex" is swallow on his birthday and his idea of special sex is attaching jumper cables to your nipples and starting the Ferrari, it's not going to work.  He's going to be bored or you are going to be charred. For one of you, the day is ruined.

The Ex and the Next
This is a big one. If his last serious and happy relationship was with a stripper named "Cilantro" he might not be appreciative of your education and passion for the black family.  If he's okay with her son sitting in the living room with a contact high and watching the Boondocks because it's a cartoon, then your parenting styles might be a little different if you get together. You like to discuss current events and he enjoys explaining to Cilantro that the two houses of Congress are actually the same building.  If she's "tatted up" and all you have are the same two earring holes your mother gave you as an infant, well... you may be a little dull for him. If you like to hang out and chill without make-up and she goes out looking like "the mask, he may not be okay with your natural beauty and the day is ruined.

Seriously folks, the notion that opposites attract is a good one and can provide for lively experiences in your relationship. However, it's important to share common values and beliefs about the things that matter most to you.  Only you can decide what those things are.  Don't ignore them or try to compensate for them in the beginning because it can lead to problems in the future of your relationship. When you have a foundation of things that bond you together, no matter how bad it gets you find a way to make it work.  Opposites attract but compatibility keeps you together.

The Love Funnel

Do you know why we exchange rings in relationships? It's not because we love each other and so we want to give nice gifts.  If that were the case we could exchange watches.  It's also not to signal to the world that you are off the market. There is nothing about that ring that keeps people from approaching you. In fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect.  We exchange rings when we attempt to enter a committed relationship to remind ourselves - not others- that the circle on our finger is never ending. It goes on and on, round and round. There is no beginning and no end to a circle. Just as there is no beginning and no end to true unconditional love. 

Can you imagine if you wore a triangle on your finger? How annoying that would be. I have a few bracelets that are odd shaped with angles. I always end up taking them off by mid-morning because those angles get in the way of what I'm doing. Though a triangle has no beginning and no end, it is not as smooth, continuous, and functional as a circle. 

What if the tires on our cars were triangles? We would have such difficulty moving forward. What if our pupils were triangles? Our vision would be grossly distorted. The world on which we live is round. The sun that provides our light is a circle.  There's something special about a circle. A triangle - not so much. 

So, I refuse to acknowledge three people in a relationship situation as a triangle.  I prefer to call it a "love funnel".  A funnel has three points- looks like a triangle- when you look at it from a 2-dimensional view.  However, the bottom point of that triangle has a hole in it. It leaks. Just as someone in that love triangle has a hole in them. No matter what you pour into a love funnel - the effort, the time, the money, the genuine, unconditional love - it will leak from the point with the hole in it. 

If you plug the hole, all the things you pour into it will remain and fill up the funnel.  As the time, effort, and love you pour into the funnel begin to build, you watch it increase. But you can only watch this from above the funnel. The view from above a funnel is, ironically, a circle.  So, if you plug the hole in a triangle (funnel), you end up looking into a circle (ring). A circle that can remind you of light, love, fidelity and truth. 

If you haven't figured it out - the hole in that love funnel is you. Otherwise, you would not be involved. If you are involved in a love funnel, full of dishonesty, fear, and selfish indulgence then there is a hole in you. 

If you are a woman and you know he is in a relationship, you have a hole in you.
If you are a man and you know she is in a relationship, you have a hole in you.  
If you are a man and you have a wife and a girlfriend, you have a hole in you. 
If you are a woman and you have a husband and a boyfriend, you have a hole in you. 
If you are single and you know that person is consistently cheating on you, you have a hole in you.
If you are single and you cannot manage to stay true to the people you are with, you have a hole in you.  

HOLY Cow! That's a lot of holes. But it's okay because we all have had our holes. I'm not going to tell you how to fill it.  I filled mine with the love of God and learned to love myself unconditionally. Once I did that. I could unconditionally love everyone else God created in a healthy, functional, respectable way. Sometimes that means leaving in love or staying in love or resting in love or waiting in love or just living in love.  No matter what you choose to do. In order for you to get out of that triangle and into the winner's circle, you've got to plug that funnel and fill that hole.